Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 08, 2023


Future Employment

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:47): My son and my stepson come to me most mornings with an idea about a new job that they think they would be good at. One just turned nine and the other one is about to. Some mornings, it is a fireman. Other mornings, it is a bodybuilder. I think most recently, one of them wanted to open a business selling all forms of meat and call it a 'meatzeria'.

At nine, they are already thinking about what they want to be and they are doing it daily. This year, for the first time in a long time, owing in large part to some pretty difficult circumstances over the past few years, there are more people than ever thinking exactly the same thing. Our state has record numbers of people signing up to commence TAFE courses in something they have never done before.

South Australia has started the year with the best business confidence rating in the nation—the best in the nation. Our state's businesses are the most confident in the nation and that matters because that is our businesses looking to grow, to invest and build upon what they are already doing. They are looking for people too. Whether it is for the first time, the second time or maybe to start all over again, in 2023 more people than ever before in this state are looking at what they are going to do with their lives.

The task before us is to help them—not just to make a living but also to make a difference. We are still in our first year of government. I know it seems like it has been a lot longer than that. We have done quite a few things. We have made 110 TAFE courses completely free—that is right: free—with five sites for new technical colleges. We have provided funding for access to autism inclusion teachers in every public primary school. We have put 60 more ambos on our roads and opened hundreds of hospital beds.

We have opened up scholarships for up to 3,000 health workers to upskill in aged, mental, emergency, palliative and renal care. We have doubled nursing graduate places from 600 to 1,200. We are going to put $10 million to support live music. We have made public transport free for seniors. We have declared a climate emergency. We have legislated shop trading hours reform, brought back Brand SA, and also brought back the Adelaide 500.

'For the future' was a bit of a catchy phrase you might have heard at the last election. Well, there it is in practice. It was not a slogan; it was a statement of intent. All these things needed to happen, not just to make money, although there is nothing wrong with that, and not just to create jobs, although no-one is going to complain about that either, it is fantastic, but because right now we need our state, our people, more than ever, and we need them equipped to confront the challenges that our neighbourhoods, our state and indeed our nation faces—the challenges of today and those on the horizon.

Delightfully, last month, South Australia had the honour of not just having one of our own named as Australian of the Year but also a South Australian named as Young Australian of the Year. And that is great, I really could not be more proud, until I read something that Awer Mabil, our Young Australian of the Year, said upon receiving the award.

A refugee from South Sudan who arrived in Australia at 10 years old, a professional football player now who grew up making his footballs out of rolled up socks and plastic bags, who knew grinding poverty—nothing like what I could possibly ever imagine—upon receiving possibly the biggest award of his life the first thing he said was, 'For me, the most important thing is to help the next generation.'

There it is. That is it. That is the attitude we need. Awer Mabil is someone who is putting his aspirations to confront the challenges of the future in practice. He is helping the next generation to build their dreams and aspirations of their own. That is the kind of South Australian we should all aspire to be, that we should all want to be.

So as people across our state walk into their first class, their new business, their first job, or indeed as they walk into parliament in 2023, we all need to remember what is most important if we want a better future for all South Australians. Do not just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference. Our state leads the nation, and we will find our way to leading the world if we can remember that very important thing.